African designs, £9.99
Height: 52.000 cm
Width: 27.000 cm
Room 25: Africa
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Wooden stool carved by Ngongo ya Chintu
Luba, late 19th century AD
From the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire)
This stool was carved by an artist known as Ngongo ya Chintu who worked in the village of Kateba on the borders between Luba and Humba territory. He incorporates stylistic elements from the sculptural traditions of both these peoples in his work.
Although the Luba trace descent through men, royal objects such as this stool often incorporate female forms, suggesting the essential role of women in Luba royal culture. The female figure alludes to a spirit medium through whom a dead Luba king was incarnated. She adopted the trappings of royalty, and when she died another woman of her lineage took the title.
T. Phillips (ed.), Africa, the art of a continent (London, Royal Academy, 1995)
J. Mack (ed.), Africa: arts and cultures (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)